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It's important to remember to check-in with ourselves and find out which areas of our lives need more balance, which leads to improving our state of mind on a day where things aren't going all that great!

I've realized a few things walking along "The Avenue of Life"… 

For instance, have you ever sat and thought about what elements in your life can maintain your sense of sanity or better yet, serenity? 

One word stands out for me like fireworks on a dark night, and that's balance! 

For those of you who have more scientific minds, you might prefer to understand why balance and maintaining vitality is significant.  As you may already know, homeostasis is characterized by the body's capacities to seek and maintain a state of equilibrium (also known as balance) within its internal environment (i.e. the body), in reaction to the ongoing changes that occur in the external environment (e.g. i.e. stress, work challenges, etc.).

Efforts to improve our state of balance can positively contribute to our lives as students, employees, or simply as human beings. The fact is, pursuing a post-secondary education or seeking employment can be a distinctly unbalancing experience, as life throws us curve balls at times.  

In fact, I clearly remember a time in my life in the spring of 2011 when balance was not only a necessity but a means of survival. My life had suddenly turned into mayhem: I had recently been mourning the sudden loss of a good friend, it was nearly a week before exams, and school was coming at me like a mad driver on the opposite side of the road! To make matters worse, I had just gotten out of a relationship that had ended sourly and I was grasping at straws in order to tread through the rough waters I was facing. It was a point in my life in which I needed to make a commitment to balance more than ever before! 

As "simply complex" as we are as human beings, this meant checking in with myself about many aspects of my life – the physical, the mental, and the social. So, I started a routine: I exercised nearly every day to sweat out the toxins, release endorphins, and build my confidence. I woke up earlier so that I could take time to unwind by starting off my morning with a long meditation or a yoga class. Last but not least, I made use of my support networks by meeting up with a friend or talking to my family in order to get through the rough patch. Evaluating my needs involved reaching for "my tool belt of feel good stuff." Whenever my life is feeling out of balance or I'm simply not having a "great" day, I do one or all of the following below, and if I don't feel 100 percent better, I'll at least feel 10 percent better.  

After all, if you're not moving forward, you're simply moving backwards! 

Exercise

Did you ever stop and think about the Kinesiology behind our bodies? It's amazing to ponder the fact that our knees and our elbows are meant to bend. Our bodies are made to move, which is how we function every day. In fact, studies have demonstrated that regular involvement in aerobics can improve our cognitive abilities, allowing us to be more alert, which contributes to our work environment. The best way to stay active is to find something that is fun, so you don't even realize that you're exercising! My activity is belly dancing! There's nothing like dancing in a studio with no one around and the music blasting, which only leaves room for self-expression and movement!! 

Unwinding Time

Let's be honest guys, no matter how busy we are, we can always find 10-15 minutes to slow down & search for peace. Unwinding time is time that you take to yourself in order to slow down from your everyday routine, busy week, or challenges you're dealing with. Considering the speed of the society we live in, it's often difficult for people to slow down, and it may even require scheduling "down time" in order for people to remember to take a breather! Luckily, our bodies are very sophisticated and communicate to us all the time: coming down with the flu, spraining our ankle, or having a headache are HINTS that we need to slow down (consider it the equivalent of a "Facebook nudge"). In other words, gaining this perspective can make an annoying situation a grateful one. Just as computers have viruses and need to be rebooted, the same goes for us as "human information processing systems.". Unwinding time can mean meditating or going for a hike to immerse yourself in nature. What's the only commonality between any sort of "unwinding time"? Enjoying the present moment. In other words, consider mindfulness as an essential component in enriching your life! 

Social Time

The need to feel connected to other people is an essential ingredient in being a social being. One of the most significant aspects of life is forming meaningful connections and relationships with other people, particularly those whom bring out the "best in us" and we all know whom those people are in our lives! 

Fitting in "social time" is a great way of disconnecting from our daily stresses, whether it's venting with your sister or simply having a good laugh over dinner with a friend. In fact, the benefits of laughter include an increase in autonomic nervous system activity, reduction in stress hormones, and an immune system boost! All the more reason to LOL.

To Sum it Up! 

Make time to exercise, unwind, and socialize.

It's important to remember to check-in with ourselves and find out which areas of our lives need more balance, which leads to improving our state of mind on a day where things aren't going all that great! Asking ourselves, “which of these can I do or have I not made time for in a while?” can go a little or even a long way!

SFU Student
Tina Ebrahimi is a practicum student in SFU’s Career Development Practitioner program and a soon to be SFU alumna. She is happily experiencing the next exciting chapter of her life, as she's preparing her journey into the field of career advising. 

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